The War of the Camps, the War of the Hostages

by Joe Stork
published in MER133

June 19,1985. In Beirut, TWA flight 847 stands desolate on the empty tarmac, a huge hulk of white metal shimmering in the heat, a picture off the cover of some bungled tourism brochure. Some 40 Americans are unwilling guests in the southern shantytowns known as the “suburbs” of Beirut. More than a hundred other passengers have been released. One, a young US Navy underwater construction expert, was beaten and executed. The two original hijackers are now said to be adherents of the Hizb Ullah (Party of God).

Syria in Lebanon

by William Harris
published in MER134

Preeminent influence in Lebanon, both on the central government and between the various factions, is critical for Syria from defensive and offensive strategic perspectives, whatever one considers Syria’s role to be in the pan-Arab arena or in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

From the defensive perspective, Lebanon covers the entire western flank of southern Syria, offering immediate access to the Damascus and Homs regions. Since Lebanon’s descent into chaos beginning in 1975, Syria has been particularly concerned about three contingencies:

Books on Lebanon

by Carolyn L. Gates
published in MER149

Wade R. Goria, Sovereignty and Leadership in Lebanon 1943-1976, (London: Ithaca Press, 1986).

Helena Cobban, The Making of Modern Lebanon, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1985).

Recent Films

by Miriam Rosen
published in MER149

Aqabat Jaber: Passing Through. Directed by Eyal Sivan. Produced and distributed by Dune Vision, 1987.

Rissala... Min Zamen al-Harb (Letter from a Time of War). Directed by Borhan Alaouie. Produced and distributed by France Media, 1986.

Zahrat al-Kindoul: Women of South Lebanon. Directed by Jean Chamoun and Mai Masri. Produced by MTC Lebanon, 1986. Distributed in the US by Camera News Inc.

Three recent documentaries, one dealing with the Palestinians and two with the war in Lebanon, were among the films screened at the Cinema du Reel, an international festival of ethnographic and sociological films, held in Paris this March.

Khalidi, Under Siege

by Yezid Sayigh
published in MER142

Rashid Khalidi, Under Siege: PLO Decisionmaking During the 1982 War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986).

Among the many books dealing with the 1982 war in Lebanon, Rashid Khalidi’s stands out by focusing on the perceptions and decisions of that campaign’s main target: the PLO. The book asks a series of questions in order to get to those at the core: Why did the PLO leave Beirut? What were the main pressures influencing the decision first to stand and fight and then to evacuate the city? Which pressures proved successful and which ineffective?

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Editor's Bookshelf

by Joel Beinin
published in MER157

The Palestinian human rights monitoring organization, Al-Haq/Law in the Service of Man, the West Bank affiliate of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, marked the first anniversary of the intifada with a comprehensive report on Israel’s violations of human rights in its effort to quell the Palestinian uprising. Punishing a Nation: Human Rights Violations During the Palestinian Uprising, December 1987-December 1988 (Ramallah, PO Box 1413, West Bank, via Israel: Al-Haq, 1988; 355 pages) is a meticulously documented compendium based mostly on sworn affidavits collected by al-Haq’s field workers, five of whom were under administrative detention at the time of publication.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

"We Discovered Our Nation When It Was Nearly No More"

An Interview with Elias Khoury

by Barbara Harlow
published in MER162

Elias Khoury is a Lebanese novelist, writer and critic. A lecturer at the American University of Beirut and the cultural editor of the Beirut daily al-Safir, Khoury is also a frequent contributor to literary and cultural journals throughout the Arab world. An English translation of his second novel, Al-Jabal al-Saghir (Little Mountain), has just been published (University of Minnesota, 1989). Barbara Harlow spoke with him in Austin, Texas, in November 1989.

Could you articulate some of the changes that you’ve seen over the last decade and a half, particularly as a writer working in the midst of the civil war?

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Class Formation in a Civil War

The Druze of Mount Lebanon

by Nazih Richani
published in MER162

The state is the cohesive factor in a social formation. But what happens to the social formation where the state disintegrates? This is not a mere polemical question if we consider the Lebanese experience.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Primer: Lebanon's 15-Year War, 1975-1990

by Martha Wenger
published in MER162

Lebanon’s people have paid a tremendous price for 15 years of invasion and civil war -- an estimated 150,000 killed, tens of thousands wounded, and hundreds of thousands displaced and left destitute. Lebanon is the only developing country in which, despite high birth rates, population growth has stagnated and even declined in the last 15 years, from some 2.59 million in 1976 to 2.50 million in 1987, owing to war deaths and emigration.

It Was Beirut, All Over Again

by Etel Adnan
published in MER162

It was Beirut, all over again,
it was Beirut on the radio
El Salvador on TV
it was Sabra & Shatila
in the memory
it was Usulutan in the heart

It was Beirut, again,
when we thought Beirut went
to rest, but Beirut will not sleep
until El Salvador sleeps
and San Francisco will
not eat
until Eritrea eats
and El Salvador
will not die

It was Beirut all over again
in Managua, in Antigua,
in the shantytowns of
Marseilles,
wherever the radio blares its
sounds
and I mean everywhere
in this electronic age
and the caveman suffers
in the belly of El Salvador